Hollande says he will do all so Greece stays in euro

AFP, Wednesday 23 May 2012

French President Francois Hollande vows to exert maximum effort to keep crunch-hit Greece in the eurozone and persuade 'Europeans who might the necessity of keeping Greece'

France's President Francois Hollande attends a joint news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 23, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

French President Francois Hollande said Wednesday he would do everything to keep debt-hit Greece in the eurozone after talks with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

"I will do everything I can in my position to convince the Greeks to choose to stay in the zone and everything to convince Europeans who might doubt the necessity of keeping Greece in the eurozone," Hollande told journalists.

Hollande was speaking amid rising speculation that Greece might might leave the eurozone.

Greece is heading for a general election on June 17, its second after an inconclusive ballot on May 6 when voters turned against the two main parties which had made promises on budget cuts and reforms in return for a second international rescue package to avert bankruptcy.

The radical leftist Syriza party, which wants to tear up Greece's unpopular EU-IMF bailout deal, came second on May 6 and is expected to emerge in a strong position in the next ballot.

European leaders have warned that Greece cannot hope to continue drawing international loans if the new government reneges on promised reforms.

"This isn't just an issue for the Greeks, it's simply an issue for the eurozone, it's an issue for Europe and of the conditions for eurozone growth," Hollande said shortly before heading for an informal EU summit in Brussels.

"This might appear disproportionate but if there were a crisis in Greece that bounces back after elections planned for June 17, that would necessarily have an impact on growth conditions in Europe and therefore the rest of the world," Hollande said.

Socialist Hollande went on to criticise what he called a problem with the European Union's decision-making mechanism that prevented the bloc acting more effectively against unemployment and other economic events.

"We have a problem with the decision-making mechanism within the European Union. Certainly instruments have been created... but we must move more quickly, more robustly," Hollande said.

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